WASHINGTON – Livan Hernandez won his career-best 10th straight decision, and the Washington Nationals extended their home winning streak to 12 by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 Saturday night.

Hernandez (11-2) improved to 10-0 in his last 13 starts, though he was uncharacteristically wild. He allowed two runs and seven hits in 7 1-3 innings, walked three, struck out four, hit two batters and threw a wild pitch.

He won nine straight decisions from June 28-Sept. 6, 1997, during his rookie season with the Florida Marlins.

Ted Lilly (5-8) fell to 0-6 in seven road starts as Toronto lost its second straight game. Lilly allowed four runs and four hits in four innings.

Marlon Byrd drove in two runs for Washington, which leads the NL with 26 home wins. Chad Cordero got four outs for his major league-best 25th save in 27 chances, his 22nd in a row.

Staked to a 4-0 lead after three innings, Hernandez cruised as the NL East-leading Nationals (44-40) moved a season-high 14 games over .500. Washington is one game shy of matching the franchise record for consecutive home wins, set by the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium from Aug. 28-Sept. 15, 1979.

Hernandez got a 2-0 cushion in the first. Brad Wilkerson drew a leadoff walk, went to third on Junior Spivey’s double, then scored on Nick Johnson’s one-out single. Byrd’s bloop single to center scored Spivey for a 2-0 lead.

A run-scoring groundout by Byrd and Vinny Castilla’s RBI single made it 4-0 in the third.

Hernandez wiggled out of a one-out, bases loaded jam in the fourth after singles by Vernon Wells, Shea Hillenbrand and Gregg Zaun. Hernandez got Alex Rios to hit a comebacker to the mound, and the pitcher dropped the ball before throwing home for a forceout. He then induced Orlando Hudson to bounce into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.

Toronto avoided its second straight shutout and chased Hernandez in the eighth.

Hillenbrand was hit by a pitch with one out, Eric Hinske singled and Zaun hit an RBI single. Luis Ayala replaced Hernandez and yielded a run-scoring fielder’s choice by Rios before being pulled in favor of Cordero.

Washington made it 5-2 in the bottom half. Johnson doubled with one out, took third on Byrd’s single and scored when Zaun overthrew second for an error on Byrd’s steal attempt.

Notes: Hernandez is one shy on Dennis Martinez’s franchise record of 11 straight winning decisions from May 9-July 29, 1989. … Hernandez hit Frank Catalanotto and Hillenbrand with pitches, giving the Blue Jays a major league-leading 42 hit batters. Hillenbrand has been plunked an AL-high 13 times, and Hernandez has hit a team-high seven batters.

AP-ES-06-25-05 2155EDT


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